If you’re the type that keeps your ear to the floor of the interweb, then you know Pinterest is the upcoming darling of social media. The website became the focus of even attention when a study by Shareaholic found that the site creates more referral traffic than Google +, LinkedIn and YouTube combined. This fact has businesses interested—and nonprofit organizations should be paying attention too.
An Overview of Pinterest for the Uninitiated
For those unfamiliar, Pinterest is a social media website that functions like a virtual pin board. Users can create and name boards around topics they love and add images and text from websites, computers, or phones. These images can be shared with friends o followers on Pinterest as well as Facebook and Twitter.
Examples of what people “pin” include wish lists, favorite travel destinations, arts and crafts, wedding dresses, motivational quotes, fashion favorites, the latest tech and much more. If users like, they can include a link to the item they pinned and help friends find more information (hence the traffic referrals).
Why Pinterest has Businesses Salivating
It’s all about traffic referrals and driving online sales. Many of the items posted to Pinterest are products and services users own, have used, or want to own or use. If their friends are curious about the product, clicking the image will bring users directly to the retailer or relevant website. Based on this interaction, Pinterest provides brands with some of the following benefits:
- “Free” exposure of their brand and product (learn how Pinterest makes money)
- Third-party endorsement from a trusted source (i.e. your friends);
- Direct e-commerce referrals that can convert to sales.
According to Entrepreneur.com , business operators such as Daniel Gordon of Samuel Gordon Jewelers posts pins of rings and watches the company sells along with other images he enjoys, while stores like Whole Foods Market posts pictures of food, recipes and other items. Meanwhile, companies like ideeli.com have “seen a 446 percent increase in web traffic from Pinterest and sales resulting from those visits have increased five-fold.”
How Nonprofits Can Use Pinterest
Nonprofits can leverage Pinterest in the same way that businesses have for similar benefit. Consider the hypothetical case of Habitat for Humanity who, as of publish date, is not on Pinterest.
This organization no doubt has archives chock-full of heart-warming imagery of houses being built, volunteers building those houses and of the families being placed in homes. This content can be posted on Pinterest to tell the organization’s story and the stories of the people they serve, helping drive traffic back to their website or increase donations.
Habitat for Humanity could also be creative in the types of pin boards they use. Some boards could be labeled DIY and include videos or instructions on how to repair household issues. Other boards might show the photos of constructed, but unfurnished homes and invite followers to donate furniture.
Other large nonprofit organizations such as Amnesty International and Unicef have recognized the value of Pinterest and established a presence. I recommend watching these organizations closely to see which benefits they are able to yield through interactions on Pinterest. The platform may not be for every nonprofit, but for those that can use Pinterest strategically, the rewards may be great.